NHL 2017-18 Season Predictions By: Charles Ferris

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WESTERN CONFERENCE 

 

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15) Colorado Avalanche 

The Colorado Avalanche are coming off their worst season ever at a record at 22-56-4. I don’t see them doing much better this upcoming season. Having some young players like Nathan McKinnon, Miko Rantanen, Nikita Zadarov and Tyson Jost, I don’t think the Av’s have what it takes to make the playoffs. Matt Duchene, who has been the main guy on the trading block since the 2017 trade deadline, the Colorado Avalanche are asking too much for the developed player. Duchene, coming off a career-worst 41 points in 77 games, the Avalanche are looking to trade him for the right asset. Even having a veteran goaltender Semyon Varlamov and defenseman Tyson Barrie, the Avalanche are too weak defensively and will finish last in the Western Conference.

 

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14) Vancouver Canucks 

The Vancouver Canucks also finished 2nd worst in the Western Conference. Again, I don’t see them going past that. Finishing last year’s at 30-43-9, the Canucks are continuing to build their prospect growth. Still having the Sedin brothers, the Canucks won’t gain progress this next season and will continue to focus on their prospects. The Vancouver Canucks are on the rise, drafting young talented players like: Elias Petterson, Brock Boeser, Olli Juolevi, Thatcher Demko and Jake Virtanen. Having a potential young star Bo Horvat, the Canucks still won’t have what it takes to finish high in the Pacific Division. Vancouver will be looking to trade veteran defenseman Alexander Edler for a potential prospect or 2nd round pick. There lack on goaltending and defense will keep the Canucks where they are now at #14 in the Western Conference.

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13) Las Vegas Golden Knights 

The newest NHL expansion team has everyone pumped for this upcoming season. Having an expansion draft, where they were able to draft one player from every NHL team, the Vegas Golden Knights were able to hit some jackpots within the draft. Picking 2 key players from both Stanley Cup Final Teams. James Neal from the Nashville Predators and Marc-Andre Fleury from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Knights were also able to steal some talent to, these players will include Defenseman: Brayden McNabb (LAK), Nate Schmidt (WSH), Shea Theodore (ANA) and Colin Miller (BOS). They also received 2 young talented forwards in Jonathan Marchessault (FLA) and Oscar Lindberg (NYR). The Knights also had 3 First Round Draft Picks in the 2017 Entry Draft, which included: Cody Glass (6th), Nick Suzuki (13th) and Erik Brannstrom (15th). The Knights have some talent to not be the worst team in the Western Conference and will be on the rise quickly. The Vegas Golden Knights will continue to grow their prospect pool and will only get better in the future.

 

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12) Arizona Coyotes 

The Arizona Coyotes are another team trying to freshen up their franchise. Since making the playoffs in 2012, the Coyotes have been horrific ever since. Yet they recently added good pieces to their organization such as: Derek Stepan, Anti Ranta & Niklas Hjalmarsson. The Coyotes will do much better than their 30-42-10 record last year. They got much better offensively despite losing goaltender Mike Smith. The Coyotes have a lot of talent and will quickly turn up in the next 2-3 years. Having very good prospects like: Jakob Chychrun, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak, Lawson Crouse and Clayton Keller. The Coyotes are another team on the rise. Having a solid core already with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Derek Stepan, and Max Domi, the Coyotes will be the outside team peaking a playoff spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if they would find a way to make the playoffs this season, but being in a hard Conference that has a lot of talent, it would be too much for the young and inexperienced Coyotes.

 

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11) Los Angles Kings 

The Los Angles Kings finished last year with a 39-35-8 record. The Kings are known for their Stanley Cup Final runs in 2012 and 2014 winning 2 Stanley Cup in 3 years. Since that the Kings have been on the decline. The Kings are getting much older, despite still having young players like Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and new prospect Gabriel Vilardi. Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Drew Doughty are the main forces for the Kings. Even having a great goaltender in Jonathan Quick, I still think the Los Angles Kings are looking on the outside just missing the playoffs due to their lack of offense. Having a bad contract with Dustin Brown and losing young defenseman Brayden McNabb, I don’t think the Kings have what it takes to make the playoffs this season.

 

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10) Chicago Blackhawks

To people who read this, must think I’m crazy but it sounds realistic. The Blackhawks, who have been the most dominant Western Conference team in the past decade, wont make the playoffs this year. Having a great core with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford, I think the Blackhawks are washed up. Their cap hit has finally hit the Blackhawks and will be a lack-luster team peaking a playoff spot. Losing superstar Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad doesn’t seem the best trade and losing players Niklas Hjalmarsson, an under-rated goaltender Scoot Darling, Trevor VanRiemsdyk and Marcus Kruger. Still having older players like Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, and Patrick Sharp. I think there’s better talent in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks are much older and will just miss the playoffs. Tho, being the most dominant team in recent years, they can prove me wrong and be one of the best teams in the Western Conference due to their experience and having superstars like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

 

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9) Winnipeg Jets 

The Winnipeg Jets have constructed a very powerhouse offense. Having one of the best Top six forward groups in the NHL. Their lack of defense and goaltending is the reason why I have them just missing the playoffs. Steve Mason is a very inconsistent goaltender and their defense has been very mediocre in the past couple of years. Tho having defenseman: Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers, I just don’t see them making the playoffs. Although their offensive weapons like: Patrick Laine, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, Bryan Little and Andrew Copp, the Jets have room for improvement in the defensive category. If their offense covers up for their defense and scores 3 to 4 goals a game, the Winnipeg Jets can very well find a playoff spot this season. The Jets have a young team and decent prospects like: Kyle Connor and Kristian Vesalainen. The Jets are another team that has been rebuilding for the past couple of years and will make the playoffs very shortly. They will do much better than their 40-35-7 record.

 

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8) San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are another team that has me very questioned about. Another team in the Western Conference that just continues to make the playoffs. For this season I wouldn’t be too confident as a Shark fan. Due to veteran players like Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Marc-Edward Vlasic and Paul Martin, I have them being the 2nd Wild Card team. They have enough depth besides there veterans like: Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Justin Braun and Mikkel Bodker. The Sharks are a very balanced team all around, but being in a tough Conference, I can see them missing by a couple of points. Despite losing veteran Patrick Marleau due to free agency, the Sharks are still to good, in my opinion, to not make the playoffs. The Sharks will do slightly worse than their 46-29-7 record, but with the presence of Martin Jones in net, the San Jose Sharks will maintain a playoff spot.

 

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7) St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues are another team that has me questioned about. They finished last year with a record of 46-29-7 and will most likely stay around or do a little worse than that. The Blues will finish as the first wild-card team in the Western Conference. Having a strong blue line with: Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko, Jay Bouwmeester and Joel Edmundson the Blues are strong enough to make it. Jake Allen is coming off a decent season for the Blues and will remain the guy in the pipes for next season. Having a superstar forward in Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues are able to create offense and score goals. Despite losing young centerman Robby Fabbri for the whole season, they are strong enough offensively besides Tarasenko like: Jayden Schwartz, Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund, and Brayden Schenn. The Blues have many players that are 2nd and 3rd line material. Yet their lack of offense would most likely be there weakest point for this upcoming season. Rookies Klim Kostin and Zach Sanford can be a major factor to the roster in a couple of years. Getting these additions was because of trading Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals for their first round pick (which became Klim Kostin) and Zach Sanford. This was an easy win for the Blues because the Capitals didn’t win the Stanley Cup and they would have lost Shattenkirk in free agency. He is now playing for the New York Rangers.

 

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6) Nashville Predators 

The Nashville Predators finished last year with a 41-29-12 record. With the best Top 4 d-pairing in the league, featuring: Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis, the Predators are too good defensively to not make the playoffs. There weakest point would surprisingly be their offense. Even having a young core that has Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Victor Ardvisson, the Predators still have older pieces that play important roles. These players would include Craig Smith, Scott Hartnell, and Nick Bonino. Both Hartnell and Bonino being required in the off-season will add more depth to Nashville’s offense. The Preds still have young players that can play important roles too, these players will include: Kevin Fiala, Colton Sissons, and Calle Jarnkrok. With Rinne’s present in net and with a good back up in Juuse Saros the Predators can easily make another run for the Stanley Cup. Despite losing James Neal to the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, the Predators will finish 3rd in the Central Division.

 

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5) Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames are coming off a first-round sweep from the Anaheim Ducks. The Flames are a young team besides Captain Mark Giordano. The Flames were busy in the offseason and traded for the prime defenseman Travis Hamonic. Hamonic was trying to move out West for the past 2 seasons, and it came true with a trade to the New York Islanders for the Flames 2018 1st round pick. This trade is a steal for the Flames, as they will be one of the strongest teams defensively with 2nd best Top 4 combo in the league. Having pairings Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie – Travis Hamonic. The Flames added another addition recently, signing veteran Jaromir Jagr. Calgary has a very young offensive core with: Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett. They also added another veteran with goaltender Mike Smith. Goaltender Brian Elliot who struggled last year, the Calgary Flames have been looking for a number 1 starter for a while and they plan that Mike Smith would do the job. With the Flames new additions in the off-season, they will do much better than their 45-33-4 record. They will finish 3rd in the Pacific Division.

 

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4) Anaheim Ducks 

The Anaheim Ducks are one of the best regular season teams in the NHL and will continue to do good in the next upcoming season. Even losing young potential solid Defenseman Shea Theodore to the Golden Knights, the Ducks still have a very solid core with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Cam Fowler, Jakob Silfverberg and John Gibson. The Ducks still have really good and young players that can play solid minutes like: Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, Nick Ritchie and Josh Manson. The Ducks are known to do well and they will continue to do so this year. They will do worse than their 46-23-13 record last year, but definitely, maintain a playoff spot for this season. Still having older veterans like Kevin Bieksa, Francois Beauchemin, and Antoine Vermette, the Ducks weak point would be goaltending. Even with a proved John Gibson, if things go wrong, I don’t see Ryan Miller being the saver for the Ducks. With that being said, the Anaheim Ducks will finish 2nd in the Pacific Division.

 

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3) Dallas Stars 

The Dallas Stars are the most improved team from last year. Doing everything right in the off-season and getting lucky in the draft lottery picking 3rd in the NHL entry draft (Miro Heiskanen). New additions have been acquired such as: Alexander Radulov, Marc Methot, Martin Hanzal and Ben Bishop. Getting new players in every position like the Flames, the Dallas Stars have a powerhouse offense, a decent defense and a solid goaltender in Bishop. Having the best line in the NHL with Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Alexander Radulov, the Stars are looking to improve from last year. Their top 4 defense being John Klingberg, Dan Hamhuis, Marc Methot and probably Miro Heiskanen. The Stars also have depth besides their first line with Jason Spezza, Martin Hanzal, and Adam Cracknell. The Stars will definitely do better than their 34-37-11 record and make the playoffs this upcoming season.

 

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2) Edmonton Oilers 

The Edmonton Oilers have been one of the worst teams in the past decade, not making the playoffs from 2006 all the way through 2016. Tho once 2015 hit, they were able to draft the best player since Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid. Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers have finally turned their franchise around, now looking to be cup contenders. The Edmonton Oilers are one of the youngest teams in the NHL and are very talented. Having the best center depth in the league with McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Having young defensemen like Darnell Nurse, Oscar Kelfbom, and Adam Larsson, the Oilers are looking to go farther than there 2nd round exit last year to the Ducks. The Oilers also have solid veterans that can help them put up points this season and the playoffs, these players include: Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Mark Letestu, Andre Sekera, Jussi Jokinen and Eric Gryba. Despite losing winger Jordan Eberle to the Islanders for Ryan Strome, the Oilers needed to stay in the cap, after signing McDavid and Draisaitl to heavy and long-term deals. The Oilers weakness this season would be defense, but having a goaltender like Cam Talbot would help the Oilers keep them in most games. With McDavid, Draisaitl, and Talbot the Oilers will do better than last year and win the Pacific Division.

 

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1) Minnesota Wild 

The Minnesota Wild might be a surprise to some people, but looking at their roster it’s very possible for them to finish first. Having the defense and goaltending as it is, the Minnesota Wild are very close to getting the job done to win the Stanley Cup. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise are getting older but the Wild still have very young ingredients like: Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgeon, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. They also have older players besides Parise and Suter that can help push the Wild to the Cup. These players are: Mikko Koivu, Eric Staal, and Matt Cullen. Despite losing Martin Hanzal, the Minnesota Wild added Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno to add to the offense. The Wild have a lot of depth and is a team that can finally make that push. With the presence of Dubnyk in-goal and with the Wild defense, I think the Minnesota Wild will win the Central Division and the Western Conference.

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE 

 

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16) Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings, just like the Blackhawks have been one of the most dominant playoffs team in recent history. After losing star-forward Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings have been on the decline. Finishing last year with a 33-36-13 record, the Wings will do worse this year. They are a rebuilding team that still have older veterans like captain Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, and Justin Abdelkader. The Wings are still waiting to hear from young winger Andreas Athanasiou, which could be a big loss if he decides to sign in the KHL. Detroit still has younger players that have talent like: Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Xavier Ouellet and Michael Rasmussen. The Wings will continue to rebuild and most likely trade their older pieces at the 2017 trade deadline. Even having a core with Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg and Peter Mrazek, Detroit is too weak both offensively and defensively to have a chance to make the playoffs.

 

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15) Florida Panthers

The Panthers who made the playoffs in 2012 and 2015, both being first-round exits to the Devils and the Islanders, will not have the best season coming up. Their future is bright but there to weak offensively. Still having a solid D core with Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, and Alex Petrovic, the Panthers don’t have a strong enough offense. Losing key pieces in Jaromir Jagr, Rielly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault. Still having a young offensive core in Alexander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers are to still too weak. Even having an older Roberto Luongo in the cage, the Panthers still doesn’t have what it takes to make the playoffs this upcoming season. Even adding the best goal scorer in the draft Owen Tippet, there will be a lot of pressure for the young kid coming up in the NHL.

 

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14) New Jersey Devils 

The New Jersey Devils are another team that can be good in the next 2-3 years. They will again not make the playoffs this year, but getting lucky in the NHL draft Lottery can definitely turn up the Devils offense. Having Nico Hischier, Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique, the Devils will do much better offensively. Having the worst year of his career Corey Schneider, he will do much better in the pipes this season. The Devils also acquired pieces Marcus Johansson, Brian Boyle and Jimmy Hayes. The Devils still have young talent in Pavel Zacha, Michael McLeod, Damon Severson and Miles Wood. The Devils weakness would be defense. Having veterans that are getting older and slower in Andy Green and Ben Lovejoy. The Devils struggled all around last year and their defense will be the major question mark for the 2017-18 season, and therefore the New Jersey Devils will not make the playoffs this season.

 

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13) Ottawa Senators 

The Ottawa Senators who made the Eastern Conference Finals last year will not make the playoffs next year. Having a great run and being one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals, looking at their roster concerns me. Running a unique system in the 1-3-1 is the reason why they gave teams trouble. Losing key defenseman in Marc Methot and having an inconsistent offense is the reason why I have them missing the playoffs. Having a solid offensive core with: Derek Brassard, Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone, they have a very weak defense besides Erik Karlsson. An inconsistent goaltender in Craig Andersson concerns me. I have the Senators dropping cause of their lack of defense and will be one of the weaker teams in the Atlantic Division.

 

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12) New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have been another team that’s been inconsistent. A team that’s constantly been going up and down throughout the years. Acquiring talented winger Jordan Eberle in the offseason for centerman Ryan Strome was a plus for the Isles. Despite losing prime defenseman Travis Hamonic, the Islanders are still strong up front. Having a duo with Tavares and Eberle can be deadly. Tho most people overlook the Islanders young guns, these players are Joshua Ho-Sang, Michael Dal-Colle, and 2015 1st round pick Matthew Barzal. Despite people’s negativity towards Dal-Colle, he might turn the page and be an NHL caliber player. Having an okay Defensive core in Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk, Tomas Hickey, and Calvin DeHann concerns me a little bit. The Islanders weakest problem to me would be goaltending. Having two weak starters in Jaraslov Halak and Tomas Griess. Halak was sent down to the minors last year due to his horrific play and the Islanders managed to miss the playoffs. Even having a solid forward core with Tavares, Eberle, Nelson, Lee, and Laad, the Islanders are too weak in both the goaltending and defensive categories.

 

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11) Carolina Hurricanes 

The Carolina Hurricanes have a lot of young players still developing. Having a breakout year in Sebastian Aho, the Hurricanes have added pieces to prove for the upcoming season. They acquired goaltender Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks, who would most likely have the starting role over Cam Ward. The Hurricanes have been rebuilding since 2010 and within the next couple of years, would themselves a playoff spot. The Hurricanes have a very solid Defense core in: Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Trevor VanRiemsdyk. The Hurricanes have many defensive prospects that will compete to make the team in the following year. These players include Jake Benn and Hayden Fleury. Still having offensive threats in Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm the Hurricanes are still to weak on offense. Carolina’s center depth is weak, but will compete in the tough Eastern Conference. 

 

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10) Buffalo Sabers 

The Buffalo Sabers have just recently signed Franchise centerman Jack Eichel to an 8 year 80 million dollar deal. Being a young team that has solid pieces can help the Sabers make a playoff spot. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening. Having weak goaltender in Robin Lehner makes me under determined about Buffalo this season. Tho having a forward core like Jack Eichel, Kyle Okposo, Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane, can help the Sabers push for a playoff spot. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, Marcus Scandella and Josh Gorges will help the Buffalo defense along the way. Buffalo lack of goaltending and the 3rd pairing of defense will keep the Sabers out from a playoff spot. Having prospects Alexander Nylander and Casey Mittelstadt will help the Sabers in the next 2-3 years to become the playoff team they want to be. Buffalo will do much better than their 33-37-12 record and strive for a playoff spot.

 

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9) Montreal Canadiens 

The Montreal Canadiens were a team that constantly made the playoffs, until this year. Even having the best goaltender in the world with Carey Price, the Montreal Canadiens are to weak offensively. The Habs have decent winger depth in Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, and youngster Artturi Lehkonen. Still acquiring players Jonathan Drouin and Karl Alzner, the Canadiens gave up their hefty prospect Mikhail Sergachev. With a solid defense in Shea Weber, Karl Alzner, Jeff Petry, David Schlemko, and Jordie Benn, the Canadiens have the weakest center depth in the NHL. Moving Drouin from an LW to a Center would be a big adjustment for the kid. Tho playing with Pacioretty and Gallagher, it can be a solid line if everything pans out. Not having a natural first line center, the Habs can be in trouble offensively. Alex Galchenyuk, who’s been the main young guy for the Canadiens could end up being a bust depending on the season he has. The Canadiens are a solid team and despite their offensive abilities, I have them just missing the playoffs by one to two points.

 

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8) Philadelphia Flyers  

The Flyers are coming off a mediocre season last year with a 39-33-10 record. Getting lucky in the NHL draft lottery picking 2nd overall and getting Nolan Patrick, the Flyers are looking much better offensively. With a great forward group already with Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Jakub Voracek, the Flyers are a very young and talented group. Despite losing centerman Brayden Schenn, the Flyers have young defenseman that can move the puck very well. Shayne Gostisbhere and Ivan Provorov are two future guys for the Flyers. With the addition of Nolan Patrick, the Flyers have other young players like Travis Konecny and Jordan Weal that work hard and create plays. Their weakest point this season would be goaltending. Even acquiring goaltender Brian Elliot, he is very inconsistent and is not reliable in the pipes. With the core the Flyers have and with defenseman Gudas, Provorov and Gostisbhere, I think the Flyers have what it takes to just barely squeak into the playoffs finishing as the 2nd Wild Card in the Eastern Conference.

 

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7) Boston Bruins 

The Boston Bruins are another team that will find their way back into the playoffs. Despite losing the Senators last year in 6 games, the Bruins will bounce back and do much better. Captain Zdeno Chara and defenseman Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy will help push the Bruins into a playoff spot. Still having the same offensive core with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci, the Bruins will do decent again this season. Having young star David Pastrnak and other older veterans in David Backes and Adam McQuaid, the Bruins should have no problem making the playoffs again. With the presence of Tuukka Rask in the pipes, the Boston Bruins are strong enough both offensively and defensively to finish 3rd in the Atlantic Division.

 

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6) Washington Capitals 

The Washington Capitals are known for their dominance in the regular season and especially being 2nd round exits in the playoffs. The Capitals had a really rough offseason losing half of their defenseman and pieces to their offense. Losing Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner to free agency. Also losing Defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. Capitals also traded Marcus Johansson for a pair of 2nd round picks and losing veteran winger Justin Williams. Last season was supposed to be the year for the Caps, but losing to the Stanley Cup Champions Pittsburgh Penguins, hurt the Caps severely. Even having the core in Alex Ovechkin, Nicholas Backstrom, T.J Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and John Carlson. The Caps have younger players in Andre Burakovski, Dmitry Orlov, and Jakub Vrana. The back to back president trophy winners will drop to the 1st Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference due to the losses on defense. Having Braden Holtby in-goal will still help the Capitals make the playoffs no problem, but will fall off from the last 2 seasons.

 

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5) Toronto Maple Leafs 

The Maple Leafs are a team on the rise, giving the best team in the league last year a run for their money in the playoffs. Losing 6 games in the Stanley Cup Finals, where every person expected the Leafs to get swept or lose in 5 games. The Leafs have a lot of talent with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner. Adding veteran Patrick Marleau in free agency will help the inexperienced Leafs to push for the playoffs. Even core centerman that everyone forgets about is Nazem Kadri. Kadri, who finished last year with 61 points and over 30 goals last season, was the Maple Leafs number 1 center before Matthews came along. Even wingers James VanRiemsdyk, Connor Brown, and Zach Hyman adds more depth to the Toronto offense. Still having a young defense, goaltender Frederick Anderson will shut the door for the Leafs and will continue to do well in the regular season. The Leafs will finish 2nd in the Atlantic Division and push for a high playoff run.

 

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4) New York Rangers

The New York Rangers are another team that’s looking to finally finish their goal of winning the Stanley Cup. Being one of the most consistent and well-balanced teams in the Eastern Conference, their lack of offense will hurt them. Having all 2nd line forward caliber players in Mika Zibenijad, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, J.T Miller, and Kevin Hayes. The Rangers are missing that one key player to make that final push. Rangers traded Derek Stepan to the Coyotes for the 7th pick in the 2017 NHL draft (Lias Anderson) and Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo. The trade is an easy win for the Coyotes, yet we don’t know how Lias will do in the future. Rangers have increased their defense immensely, adding not only DeAngelo but Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk adds a lot of offense to the Rangers power play and can quarterback and control the play. Rangers 21st pick Filip Chytil, the young Czech Slovakia is hoping to be the player that the Rangers are missing. With that being said the Rangers will play youngsters DeAngelo, Chytil, and Buchnevich. Rangers have the 3rd best top 4 defense in the league with captain Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith. With the presence of the “KING” Henrik Lundqvist in net, the Rangers can make another cup run. They will finish 3rd in the Metropolitan Division.

 

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3) Columbus Blue Jackets 

The Blue Jackets is a team that has a lot of threats. Adding the new edition in Artemi Panarin for forward Brandon Saad, is an easy win for the Jackets. Adding a number one goal scorer to the team, Columbus will finally have more depth on offense to be a cup contender. The Jackets have the 2nd best center core in the league behind Edmonton, with Brandon Dubinsky, Alexander Wennberg, Boone Jenner, and Lukas Sedlak. Having solid wingers in Artemi Panarin, Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Matt Calvert, Josh Anderson, and Sonny Milano. With a great defensive core in Zach Werenski, Seth Jones, Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray and David Savard, the Blue Jackets might have the deepest team in the NHL. Having an amazing goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets will be a very difficult team to beat. The Jackets will finish 2nd in the Metropolitan

 

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2) Pittsburgh Penguins 

Winning Consecutive Stanley Cups in back to back years, you have to think that the Penguins will finish first in the Metropolitan. With the roster they have, they will remain first. Having the 2nd and 3rd best centers in the league with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins are too good offensively to not win the Metropolitan. Having other ingredients in Phil Kessel, Patrick Hornqvist, Kris Letang, Oli Matta and Jake Guentzal, will help the Penguins strive for another cup. As they try to win their 3rd straight Stanley Cup, the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to go through tougher teams than they faced last year. The Penguins weakness is defense but there winning Stanley Cups due to their offensive players. Having Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel is just really hard to stop and with Matt Murray in net, the Penguins will be a tough team to beat again and will finish first in the Metropolitan Division.

 

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1)  Tampa Bay Lightning 

The Tampa Bay Lightning will 100% have a bounce-back year from the following year. Just missing the playoffs by 2 points, they will finish first in the Eastern Conference and win the president’s trophy. Having offensive threats in Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning have a very solid Defensive core as well. Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman is the best two-way defenseman in the league. Playing with Anton Stralman along his side, the Lightning also added a key prospect in Mikhail Sergachev. Having other quality forwards in Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Chris Kunitz and Alex Kilorn, the Lightning will be one of the strongest teams in the league. If Stamkos stays healthy, he and Kucherov can tear it up. If young goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy plays well in the pipes for the Lightning, there should be no problem that the Bolts will win the Atlantic Division and be one of the best team in the NHL.

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